The Right Way to Give Up

Pessimistic. Weary. Frustrated. Cynical. Depressed.

I’m encountering lots of people feeling an assortment of these emotions, and I confess to feeling more than one of the above myself as winter nights, gloomy days, end of year deadlines and the Christmas rush combine into a toxic gloom!

When we feel like this we can be tempted into giving up.

  • Giving up on  serving God and others.
  • Giving up on seeking holiness, obedience, and spiritual maturity.
  • Giving in to laziness, self-pity, and irritation with others.

Christians should give up when the going gets tough.

But NOT in any of the ways I’ve just listed! The reality is that we do get tired, overworked, and overwrought. We are finite, flawed individuals, and exhaustion and stress strip away the layers that we use to disguise this most of the time!pexels-photo-253208

Yet the Bible calls Christians to give up in a different sense:

  • We are to give up on our own strength and resources being sufficient.
  • We are to give up on trying to please God by our own merits alone.
  • We are to give up on self-made productivity and achievement.

 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Instead when we our insufficiency is exposed, we are to rejoice in the sufficiency of our God! We are to rest in his provisions and his power.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Our weakness should remind us of our desperate need for a saviour, one who is our Lord, Master and friend. We should give up on ourselves and draw close to our God. In him are new stores of help . . . but he sometimes waits to bestow them until we are humbly conscious of our need.

Like Martha, Jesus’ harried hostess in Luke 10, we often need the reminder to stop rushing around and ‘choose what is better’ – to sit at Jesus’ feet. (Maybe never more so than at Christmas!)

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.

Lamentations 3:22-6

Even though our challenges may continue and our worries remain, the Bible promises us that God’s mercies are new every morning, and that he is steadfast and faithful. He is our living water that never runs dry and the bread from heaven that ever sustains!

Have a joyful, peaceful Christmas!

 

Nim

 

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A Few Reading Recommendations for 2016

Thank you all for reading the blog last year, I am always encouraged to hear your comments, and I trust that with God’s help I will continue to be honest, biblical, and practical. Sorry for fewer posts in recent months, I’m studying for a Masters in Theology and essay writing is eating up my blogging time!

It’s been a while since I’ve made any book recommendations, so I thought I’d share a few of my favourite Christian books from 2015. (Shout out to my fab and faithful reading buddy Jade – without whom I’d have read significantly less!)

 

Picture Perfect: When Life Doesn’t Line-Up by Amy BakerPicture_Perfect_Thumb__14393.1404693686.451.416

I constantly wrestle with perfectionism, and so I made it my mission to find a good book on the subject. Amy Baker brings her experience as a Christian counsellor to bear on this multi-faceted issue, diagnosing the heart of the problem and giving great biblical and practical advice on how to bring our high standards into line with the gospel. Baker persuaded me that nearly everyone is a perfectionist, although it shows up in different ways. I challenge you to read this and not see yourself reflected in its pages!

 

Overcoming Sin & Temptation by John Owen305014668_10a33e1e9a_b

John Owen was a puritan theologian, and his works continue to powerfully impact Christians today.  I’ve mentioned this book before, but I’m currently having a reread.

Dealing with sin and temptation to sin is a daily reality for all of us, and Owen speaks incredibly helpfully about it, giving advice that I’ve found to be deep and life changing. Although he has a reputation for being difficult to read, this book has been superbly modernised and made very accessible.

 

The Accidental Feminist: Restoring Our Delight in God’s Good Design by Courtney Reissigaccidental feminist

This book discusses what it means to be a woman, looking at the definitions of society (which have changed and are changing), and at what the Bible says about womanhood and gender roles.

I found it to be intelligent, challenging, and contemporary. Reissig articulates well how it feels to be a woman today, and the decisions and opportunities that we are faced with, and gives wise counsel about how to be biblical in them – whatever your relationship status or stage of life.

 

The Plausibility Problem: The Church and Same-Sex Attraction by Ed Shaw51EzC082idL._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_

If you’re looking to read a book on what the Bible says about homosexuality, and how this fits with contemporary life and church, I would recommend this as one of the best out there.

It’s written by Ed Shaw, who speaks with biblical understanding, and pastoral and personal experience. It’s readable, informative, and powerful. Thank you Ed for your willingness to share so honestly and helpfully.

 

 

Here’s to even more fruitful reading in 2016 (Let me know if you’ve any suggestions!)

 

Nim

Tasty Food for Thought

I’m cheating today.
I’ve recently come across two great pieces of writing by friends of mine. So I thought I’d share them, and give you a break from my own ramblings!
Have a read, share them if you like them, and let me (or them) know what you think:

Filtered Grace Cover

1) Filtered Grace by Robin Ham
Robin has done something that is fairly unique at the moment, and has written a short ebook linking the phenomenally successful Instagram with Christian faith. (It’s a good read whether you are a Christian or not.) Robin looks at Instagram from a number of angles, seeking to answer the question of why it is so popular, and how it affects and affirms the things that make us human.
As a regular Instagrammer I found it interesting, and helpful in making sense of what drives me to share my filtered pictures with the world. It’s an intelligent and uplifting look at how the Christian worldview enables us to make sense of the ins and outs of this popular app. You can download it FREE here.

 

2) I’m No Superhero by Jonathan Livingston
This is truly beautiful article conceptually and illustratively, and well written, although Jonathan describes it as a work in progress. It engages with the Biblical story of David & Goliath, seeking to connect it with the story of Jesus, and with our own individual stories in an important way. Read it here.

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It’s My Blog’s First Birthday!

WordPress has just reminded me that today marks ONE YEAR since I began writing at Oneofthethirsty.com!

On February 13th 2012, I (tentatively) started the blog because I wanted a new way to encourage my personal growth as a Christian.

Blogging every week or so helps me to personally think through and apply what I’m learning, as I study the Bible and teach it to others – so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize (1 Corinthians 9:27)

Over the last 365 days I’ve written 43 posts, and you guys have visited just over 2,500 times.

I am thankful for the way God has used each post to bless, rebuke, or challenge me as I write, and to bless my readers too – Thank you to everyone who has read them, and those of you who have chatted with me about things I’ve written.

I hope my writing has improved over time. I definitely use fewer exclamation marks although I’m still tempted to add them to every other sentence – I’m trying to learn to show my enthusiasm in other ways (!)

I pray that God would continue to inspire me as I think, and question, and write in 2013. I want to love Jesus Christ more, know him better, and obey him more fully.

As always, I love hearing from you, and depend on your feedback to keep writing helpfully, accurately, and Christ-centrically. So please keep commenting and emailing!

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All glory to God

Nim

Serving under the Captain

Today marks the 121st anniversary of great preacher Charles Spurgeon’s death. He had an incredible ministry that continues to influence the Christian world today. If you’ve never heard of him, I encourage you to find out more about his fascinating life and ministry. He had a deep knowledge of the Bible, a wonderful way with words, and a great sense of humour. His own personal experience of a daily walk with God is always so evident in his words – the ups and downs of Christian life, but also the constant and faithful presence of Jesus Christ.

Join me in mulling over his final words in the pulpit before he died. They are fantastic! What a wonderful testimony to the Captain of his life, and his eternity. I pray that one day you and I will echo his sentiments on what it’s like to follow Jesus for a lifetime:

(If you want to read more I recommend The Spurgeon Series – A series of books containing Spurgeon’s sermons slightly updated for the modern reader.)

Looking Back, Looking Forward

As this is the time for reflection on the year that has just ended, and looking ahead to what the New Year will bring, I thought I’d do a bit of reflecting on my first year as a blogger.

I’m actually pretty surprised that I’ve managed to post regularly, and I hope that this will continue into 2013! (Unless I get any pleading emails to stop sharing my thoughts with the world!)

The most popular posts of 2012 were:

1. The Bible Study I Didn’t Want To Teach

2. Why Gratitude Isn’t Enough

3. What I’m Learning from my International Friends

4. A Greater Hunger

5. What should I do when God isn’t answering my prayers?

The posts that sparked the most comments on the blog and in person were:

Expanding the Scope of My Prayers

And

What does the Bible mean when it tells us to fear God?

My aim in joining the blogosphere back in February 2012, was to encourage my own spiritual growth by regularly writing about what that God is teaching me, thoughts I’m mulling over, and good resources I’m enjoying.

It’s been a really fruitful exercise for me to write intentionally and regularly, just for my own benefit, but i’m glad to hear that it’s a blessing to others too!

Thank you to all of you who have read my posts, commented, and had some great face to face discussions with me; prompted by things I’ve blogged about.

Do let me know if you have any feedback that will help me to improve the blog – or any subjects you think I should tackle (no promises!)

I’m praying that God would bless and direct all that I write in 2013 for his glory.

Happy New Year!

Nim

My Music Favourites of 2012

As the year approaches its end, and as I trawl my mind and the shops for gift ideas, I’ve been reflecting on some of the Christian albums I’ve enjoyed this year. (I listen to other music too, but it’s the Christian stuff that can go unnoticed!)

It’s a risky business to reveal one’s music tastes, but here goes. Some of these albums have been hugely helpful to me – encouraging me, helping me worship, and reminding me of vital truths.

Leigh Nash Hymns & Sacred Songs

Recommended AlbumsYou 90’s kids might remember Leigh as the front woman of Sixpence None The Richer. Well, her style has developed with the years, and this is a great album of well known hymns and songs with deeply affecting words, which are a pleasure to listen to – a good album to work to!

I would recommend anything produced by Sovereign Grace Music, each of their albums is full of songs that call the listener to worship, and equip them to do so, with the wonderful truths of God that each song paints!

The latest album is called From Age to Age and if you want one worship album – this is the one I’d recommend. It’s a collection of new songs by a variety of song writers. I often just sit and read the lyrics because they are so helpful! But the music is good too!

The Now and Not Yet – Jeremy Riddle

If you like music with a bit more guitar and bass, then you might like this album by US Worship Leader Jeremy Riddle. Something about his voice and style reminds me of UK Rock band Delirious. This album is actually a couple of years old, I was just slow to discover it! A good album to have in the car!

I get a lot of teasing for my closet love of R&B and Hip hop, but it can be a challenge to find good positive music in this genre, let alone Christian music that keeps up with its secular counterparts! Here are two albums that I can solidly recommend without embarrassment on either score. Each track is a great dose of good theology connecting solidly with the daily battle of Christian life, in a genre well suited to tackle big subjects directly and passionately.

Here are some you may not have come across but are well worth a listen:

Gravity – Lecrae is making waves stateside with his “holy hip hop”, so much so that CNN and TIME Magazine have run features on him. I have been greatly blessed by some of his lyrics, as he tackles the challenges and blessings of Christian life in a broken world, with depth. (He also gives me an excuse to turn my bass speakers up!)

The Good Life – Trip Lee

The stand out track on this album for me was For My Good. I was in tears as I listened to Lee relating why God doesn’t always give us the desires of our hearts, and how we must fight for obedience in disappointment. A good soundtrack in the battle for godliness! And it’s another great one if you like a bit of a beat!

Try not to mock me for my music taste! I hope you enjoy some of these – You can sample them via the Amazon links above or on YouTube.

 Do you have any recommendations for me?